Ivanka Trump's Childhood Best Friend Says She Had to Speak Out with Scathing Account of Their Fractured Bond
For much of their early life, Lysandra Ohrstrom and Ivanka Trump were inseparable — "more sisters than best friends," Ohrstrom writes in a new article for Vanity Fair — as they traveled to far-flung locales such as Costa Rica, Paris and Nicaragua, sang along to favorite songs and snuck out of nightclubs to watch Lifetime movies instead.
"Sure," Ohrstrom writes of President Donald Trump's oldest daughter, "she loved to talk about herself and was shamelessly vain, but she was also fun, loyal, and let’s face it, pretty exciting."
Now, in the final months of the Trump administration, Ohrstrom has joined the chorus of Ivanka's detractors, saying she stayed mum for too long.
"Although friends and family have warned that this article won’t be received the way I want, I think it’s past time that one of the many critics from Ivanka’s childhood comes forward—if only to ensure that she really will never recover from the decision to tie her fate to her father’s," Ohrstrom writes.
Wherever Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, go next, Ohstrom wants her account on the record, following them around.
In her Vanity Fair article, published Tuesday, Ohrstrom writes of some of their childhood and early-adulthood adventures ... as well as her creeping disillusionment with Ivanka, who like Kushner has worked in the White House since 2017.
"I’ve watched as Ivanka has laid waste to the image she worked so hard to build," Ohrstrom writes — an image, to Ohrstrom, of "embodying a more polished and intellectual offshoot of the Trump brand."
Eventually, Ohrstrom felt she couldn't not say something.
She writes: "A few weeks ago, after I voted early against her dad, I sat down at my computer and began to write about my friendship with Ivanka with no eye toward publication. But the more I wrote, the surer I became that I did not owe her my silence."
According to Ohrstrom, there are others in their New York City circle who are equally critical in private — "but in public, we’ve stayed silent because that’s what we are taught to do."
She writes how her relationship with Ivanka began when they first met in seventh grade at Chapin, an Upper East Side all-girls' school.
"I was eager to land on the popular side of the classroom, ruled over by Ivanka and about five other wild, entitled, precocious preteens," Ohrstrom writes.
Ivanka's father, according to Ohrstrom, was also memorable, though he "barely acknowledged" her "except to ask if Ivanka was the prettiest or the most popular girl in our grade."
"Before I learned that the Trumps have no sense of humor about themselves, I remember answering honestly that she was probably in the top five," Ohrstrom writes. “'Who’s prettier than Ivanka?' I recall him asking once with genuine confusion, before correctly naming the two girls I’d had in mind. He described one as a young Cindy Crawford, while the other he said had a great figure."
Ohrstrom writes that the real estate magnate would also comment on her weight and "seemed to have a photographic memory for changes in my body."
She recounts how Donald Trump Jr. once grabbed half of a grilled cheese sandwich from her plate during lunch at the family’s Mar-a-Lago Club, to which the elder Trump responded, "She doesn’t need it. He’s doing her a favor.”
Ohrstrom and Ivanka grew closest after an overseas trip while they were freshmen in high school and the two appeared together in a Sassy magazine article in 1997.
Later, she writes, "in our late teens and early 20s, it felt like Ivanka and I were always on the same page or up for the same adventure, whether it was leaving Bungalow 8 early to watch a Lifetime movie, or horseback riding from a surf village in Costa Rica to a town in Nicaragua because we had never been there before."
As adults, however, their bond frayed before fracturing completely in 2009, shortly after Ohrstrom served as one of two maids of honor in Ivanka’s wedding to Kushner.
While Ivanka could be generous and thoughtful, sending gifts and party invites and offering up a helping hand or her connections, their differences — over Israel and the Palestinians, over economic policies, over their diverging experiences of the world — were too much to surmount, Ohrstrom writes.
According to one anecdote, Ohrstrom writes that Ivanka criticized her for wearing a necklace with her name written in Arabic, in what Ohrstrom suggests was anti-Arab bias: "How does your Jewish boyfriend feel when you are having sex and that necklace hits him in the face? How can you wear that thing? It just screams, ‘terrorist.’ "
Elsewhere, she recalls her frustration that Ivanka hadn't asked her about a new job, which prompted Ohrstrom to text her about it shortly after her wedding to Kushner.
"I don’t remember her exact reply," Ohrstrom writes, "but it was something along the lines of, 'Ly, I’m too busy for this s---.' "
She also describes some of Ivanka's "rougher, more Trumpian edges," including when Ivanka "would regularly relay stories of teachers or observers who had commented that she had the most innate talent they had ever seen for whatever new pursuit she was taking up" or her penchant for McDonald's.
Once, when they were younger, Ivanka "goaded me and a few other girls into flashing our breasts out the window of our classroom in what has since been labelled the 'flashing the hot dog man' incident in [school] lore," but Ivanka "pleaded her innocence," Ohrstrom writes.
In Ohrstrom's words, "she had the Trump radar for status, money, and power, and her dad’s instinct to throw others under the bus to save herself."
That view echoes what some members of Manhattan society have reportedly said privately — that, should Kushner and Ivanka return to New York after her dad is out of office, they won't be met with open arms.
Ivanka does have her defenders, of course.
While her spokeswoman declined to comment on the record, another friend spoke up, telling PEOPLE: “Ivanka has been nothing but a genuinely sincere, smart and compassionate person throughout my years of knowing her.”
“It’s disappointing and sad to see people become so blinded by their partisanship that they go out of their way to attack those they know to be good people,” this friend says. “Her real friends know who she is and will always support her.”
Another source close to her and Kushner, speaking with PEOPLE shortly after the Nov. 3 election, shrugged off the criticism they would likely face if returning to N.Y.C.’s anti-Trump milieu after years of scrutiny for their work with the president.
The source cited Ivanka's focus in the White House on family and workplace issues and her following among conservative women.
"If you don't like somebody, it's very easy to find fault with them. But if you're actually willing to take a calculated, reasoned approach and look at the results, the argument just doesn't stand. It has no legs to stand on," this person says.
They continue: "As we all know — 'complicit' in what? In getting things done? A lot of the rhetoric, once it calms down, will be a lot more fact-based."
A third source, a Trump adviser and former senior White House official, recently called Ivanka "a very pragmatic person" and "very smart."
According to Ohrstrom, though, Ivanka is a world away from the woman she once knew — publicly, at least.
Ohrstrom writes that, in their 20s, she recommended Ivanka read the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls, which revolves around the manager of a diner in a working-class town in Maine.
Ivanka's response, according to Ohrstrom: “'Ly, why would you tell me to read a book about f------ poor people? What part of you thinks I would be interested in this?' ”
Years later, Ohrstrom watched from afar as Ivanka took the stage at her father's rallies along with her young children.
"Aligning herself with her dad’s banana republic-style administration made no sense to me, until my friend suggested that Ivanka took her kids to the rally to show them that they are American royalty," Ohrstrom writes. "This explanation seemed most plausible. What is more royal than presiding over subjects that you disdain?"
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON